Research At CSU Suggests Stem Cell Therapy Beneficial To Cats In Chronic Kidney Failure

Chronic kidney failure, commonly known among veterinarians as chronic renal failure, is the number one cause of death in cats.   It is generally accepted that if a cat lives long enough, it is not a question of if he will develop kidney failure, but a question of when.   Many cats are genetically predisposed to chronic renal failure and will develop the disease before 10 years of age.

Chronic renal failure is a degenerative disease where there is progressive loss of functional kidney tissue.  As functional kidney tissue turns to scar tissue, the kidneys progressively experience a gradual reduction in key functions, including detoxification, concentrating urine, and regulating red blood cell production.

In the past, our only means of diagnosing chronic renal failure in cats was detection in general blood work with proportional elevations of two key kidney values in combination with unusually dilute urine seen on urinalysis.  By the time these circumstances manifested, however, 75% loss of functional tissue had already been lost.

With the advent of early screening with a blood test called SDMA and a change in interpretation of the key kidney value called creatinine (previously 2.1 was considered elevated, whereas now the American Feline Renal Society recognizes 1.6 or higher an indicator of renal disease), we are able to detect chronic renal failure well before there is substantial loss of functional tissue.

This has been very important for cats with chronic renal disease, where dietary modifications with prescription renal diets that limit phosphorous, sodium, and metabolic proteinaceous waste could be implemented to slow the degeneration and maintain quality of life.  While these dietary measures have proven invaluable for cats in active chronic renal failure, their role in slowing progression of early disease remains questionable.

While the renal diets are still an accepted strategy for slowing the progression of early chronic renal failure, new research at Colorado State University headed by Dr. Jessica Quimby suggests that stem cell therapy could play a key role in stabilizing degenerative chronic renal failure in cats.  Her research early on, however, indicates that once the functional tissue is gone, stem cell therapy will not restore the tissue and is not as powerful in turning back the clock on kidney health.  She states that her research shows the most significant benefit to stem cell therapy is with cats that are screened early and treated early to stabilize and halt the loss of kidney tissue before reaching the 75% loss threshold.

Still, the conclusions of Dr. Quimby’s research are still premature and she observes that stem cell therapy may still be quite helpful even for cats with more advanced stages of chronic renal disease.  She states, “Up until now, we’ve focused on cats with early stages of the disease with the hope of slowing disease progression.  We noticed that a few cats with worse stages in those studies were actually doing really well. We can’t ignore the possibility that stem cells could help those cats, too.”

With cutting edge technology from Tithon Animal Services that enables us to now harvest stem cells from peripheral via simple blood draw (the Colorado State study is using stem cells derived from fat which requires a minor surgical procedure for harvest) that my clinic is now utilizing there is a  subsequent dramatic reduction in cost and invasiveness for treatment.  With simple blood draw followed by simple IV infusion of the stem cells once they are processed (typically in 1-2 business days) there is really little reason not to attempt stem cell therapy in cats in early to advanced stages of chronic renal failure.

The biggest takeaway from this article with regard to stem cell therapy and chronic renal failure in cats is early screening of disease is key in optimizing treatment success.  Thus, by 8 years of age, every cat should be having at least once yearly blood and urinalysis screening for detection of disease and early intervention.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Primary source for this article: https://source.colostate.edu/veterinarians-pursue-stem-cell-therapy-cats-severe-kidney-disease/

What Is Your Pet’s Microbiome And Why Is It Important To Know About It?

The microbiome of a pet is the sum total of the bacterial and fungal population that normally resides in the gut of a dog or cat that is necessary for proper digestion and promoting immunity from infectious disease at the level of the gut.  The microbiome of a person has actually been measured and found to have a mass on average of 2 kg or roughly 4 1/2 pounds.  If one can picture how tiny the microscopic bacteria and fungi that comprise the human microbiome, the sheer numbers of these organisms to add up to over 4 pounds is astounding.

Proportionally, we have found the microbiome of dogs and cats to be equivocal, so it is reasonable to conclude that maintaining a healthy microbiome is as important in dogs and cats for maintenance of a healthy GI system as it is in people.  There are countless circumstances that can negatively influence the microbiome of dogs and cats beginning with diet.  For example, studies have found that dogs fed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet had decreases in the ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes bacteria.   Interestingly, the same is not true in most cats, as it seems at least anecdotally, that the opposite may actually be true.

Any metabolic, infectious, autoimmune, or parasitic disease that throws off the homeostasis (metabolic balance) of the body can negatively impact the microbiome of pets.  Thus, when veterinarians are presented with chronic gastrointestinal disease in pets, we are commonly recommending general blood work to rule out that the GI disturbance actually be a secondary manifestation of systemic disease elsewhere in the body.  Sometimes the microbiome of a pet is negatively affected simply by advancing age.

The importance of a healthy microbiome cannot be overstated.  From a primary standpoint, it maintains healthy digestion and a healthy local digestive immune system.  This make the pet’s ability to process and absorb food, as well as the ability to fight infection largely dependent on a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria and fungi.

Subsequently in any case of chronic disease, whether primary at the level of the gut or elsewhere, a pet should be maintained on a veterinary grade, high quality probiotic supplement, which gives the gut a regular, healthy inoculation of beneficial gut microbes to maintain a healthy microbiome.  Since age alone can negatively impact the integrity of the microbiome, I also recommend that any pet over the age of 5 be maintained on a probiotic supplement.

I wrote earlier about the magnitude of the microbiome in terms of shear numbers of microbes that comprise a healthy microbiome.  It should subsequently come as no surprise that we have observed that typical probiotic supplements that offer gut microbes in the millions per dose are largely ineffective in significantly boosting the microbiome and positively affecting health.  More realistically, in order to effectively promote a healthy microbiome in pets, it is necessary to choose probiotic supplements that offer gut microbes in the billions per dose.

The microbiome may not be the sole answer to every pet’s optimal healthy, but it should be among the first considerations in promoting the overall wellness and health of dogs and cats.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

A Warning About The Use Of Essential Oils Around Pets

I see the essential oils craze all over social media and the internet.  Main stream medicine is clearly not behind the claims of some of these products.  As an integrative veterinary practitioner, I maintain an open mind, embrace proven and safe natural treatment, but still caution embracing a particular course of treatment just because of anecdotal claims of efficacy and no real study or clinical trials to prove its efficacy and safety.  In the case of the use of essential oils and people I remain far from convinced, especially with multilevel marketing behind pushing it for the most part…but alas, I digress, as human health is not my expertise.

Pets, on the other hand, are my expertise and I have grown very concerned about people recommending essential oil therapy for pets only because they believe or were told it was great for people.  Let me be very clear, pets and people are not the same!  Case in point, essential oils in the classes of phenols, monoterpene hydrocarbons, phenylpropanes, and ketone groups are potentially toxic to dogs and cats, especially cats.  They most certainly are not therapeutic and I would caution their use meant for people in households that have dogs and cats.

Below is a list of common essential oils that a consensus of toxicologists have deemed potentially harmful to pets

  1. Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
  2. Birch (Betula)
  3. Bitter Almond (Prunus dulcis)
  4. Boldo (Peumus boldus)
  5. Calamus (Acorus calamus)
  6. Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
  7. Cassia (Cassia fistula)
  8. Chenopodium (Chenopodium album)
  9. Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
  10. Garlic (Allium sativum)
  11. Goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)
  12. Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
  13. Hyssop (Hyssopus sp. with the exception of Decumbens)
  14. Juniper (Juniperus sp. with the exception of Juniper Berry)
  15. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
  16. Mustard (Brassica juncea)
  17. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  18. Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  19. Red or White Thyme
  20. Rue (Ruta graveolens)
  21. Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
  22. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
  23. Savory (Satureja)
  24. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  25. Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  26. Terebinth (Pistacia palaestina)
  27. Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
  28. Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
  29. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  30. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

If social media is any indication with the multimedia blitz of pushing essential oils as the next an greatest cure for any number of ailments and ramping up for the gifting holiday season, please beware of that many of these oils can be very harmful for pets, especially those that are senior aged, living with chronic disease, or simply are cats (who often have much greater sensitivities to things that may be harmless to people and dogs).

With regard to treatment for pets with essential oils, there is special reason to be cautious.  There currently is no consensus on their efficacy or real proof of any of the claims I have seen.  Moreover, with actually proven potential for harm if the wrong essential oils are used on or around pets, I would not recommend their use until there is real peer reviewed study on their efficacy and safety, preferably untainted by the multilevel marketing industry altogether.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Pet Owners Should Not Take “Natural” To The Point Of Absurd

I can appreciate pet owners who wish to feed their pets organic and natural food, pursue natural, side effect free alternative treatment options, and avoid chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides.  I try to do that for myself and my human and furry family as much as it is feasible.  As an integrative practitioner of veterinary medicine, I often attract these kinds of pet owners and enjoy a great working relationship with them most of the time.  There are occasions, however, when I deal with such naturally minded pet owners that draw a lines in the sand that defy common sense and venture into the realm of the absurd.

In a recent case of an 8 year old female boxer, I determined on a routine yearly visit had stage 3 out of 4 periodontal disease.  The owners were aware of the periodontal disease with their previous veterinarian having made dental recommendations as well, but until seeing me (they had just moved here from another state), the previous veterinarian had told them of the condition of the teeth but did not actually show them (so they told me, anyway).

She was a very good patient, so I was easily able to lift the lips and show the owners how decayed her teeth were with severe gum recession in many spots, tooth root exposure, and even pus along some of the gum margins.  I strongly recommended a professional dental cleaning and what would likely amount to several extractions for teeth beyond repair.

The owners were up front about their preference for natural treatment but to their credit, understood that no amount of enzyme/grapefruit seed extract dental sprays would fix these teeth.  We rran pre-anesthetic blood work which revealed that at an unusually young age, the boxer has significant kidney elevations that indicated chronic degenerative kidney disease.  I still recommend the dental because there is a direct correlation between chronic periodontal disease and acceleration of kidney failure in dogs and cats.  I would take the necessary precautions with my anesthesia protocol to maximize the patient’s safety.

The patient ultimately came through nicely through anesthesia, dental cleaning and oral surgery to removed several teeth.  At discharge, I discussed with the owners that I will circle back with them at the 2 week post-operative re-check to discuss dietary management as the primary means to manage chronic kidney failure in dogs.  The owner said that she would be back for the re-check, but the dietary discussion would not be necessary.  I was not quite sure at the time what the owner meant, but she quickly left and I got distracted with more discharges and forgot about her statement.

At re-check, I confirmed to the owner that all of the surgical sites had healed well and the gum infection had completely cleared.  I then turned the discussion to my recommendation of a prescription renal diet, as these diets are comprised of highly bioavailable protein sources (that are in turnassociated with minimal protein metabolic waste), restricted in sodium and phosphorus, and are fortified with antioxidants to combat toxins that accumulate in the body as a consequence of kidney failure.  All of these aspects of prescription diets for patients in kidney failure combat high blood pressure, reduce the work-load of the kidneys, and produce minimal toxins as metabolic waste that help to maintain quality of life and body condition.

The owner’s demeanor suddenly changed and she became defensive and reminded me that she had already told me that a discussion about diet was not necessary.  She went on to tell me that she and her husband are passionate about feeding raw meat and vegetables to their dogs and that they did not intend to vary from that.  She said that she could not justify intoxicating her dog with processed food and preservatives no matter the claims of the diet.

During circumstances like these, I generally have to take a moment to swallow, take a deep breath, allow my blood pressure to stabilize and collect myself; which I did.  I then patiently explained to her that I respect her passion for all things natural, but in this case, a prescription diet does have preservatives and is processed (since it is engineered to have exactly what a kidney failure dog needs to maintain quality of life and facilitate longevity), but the proteinaceous waste, sodium, and phosphorous levels her raw diet provided the dog would be far more harmful in disease progression than any preservatives or processing.  I offered this owner statistical data that clearly proved the benefit of prescription kidney sparing diets in dogs.

Alas, it was all to no avail.  While she seemed to listen and I thought I may have made a dent, she simply told me no thank you, she and her husband  did not believe in feeding processed food and preservatives to their dogs and that they are fully prepared to take their chances.

This is when I had to resist the temptation to bang my head against the wall as a wonderful boxer that could have had many months, even years, added to her life by simply being fed a special diet, walked out the door to have her life shortened and her quality lessened over her owner’s sheer narrow mindedness and stubbornness.

Natural and alternative medicine minded pet owners frequently complain – often rightfully so – that many veterinarians are dismissive of discussing or looking into natural alternatives to feeding and therapy, and are close minded and  focused on only traditional western veterinary medicine.  Unfortunately, integrative veterinarians that are not close minded, sometimes encounter the flip side to that coin with occasional owners such as the subject of this post, that are to too entrenched in their natural dogma to be reasonable…and the pet at no fault of her own is the one who suffers needlessly.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Cannabis Medical Marijuana Uses For Dogs & Cats

Medical marijuana was just passed in Florida by referendum in the 2016 election.  Despite the voter referendum, conservative counties backed by our republican controlled executive and legislative state government are running interference across the state to disrupt the implementation of medical marijuana leaving it still largely unavailable.

The reality of medical marijuana is that it has a number of legitimate uses for disease management that are virtually side effect free when dosed properly.   The marijuana flower has glandular structures known as trichomes that contain essential oils.  When these glands are separated from the plant, “cannanioids” may be separated out and formulated into the proper ratios that facilitate medical uses with little to no side effects.

Cannabinoids fall into 2 categories.  Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is responsible for the psychotropic effect; while cannabidiol, or CBD, provides the main medicinal component.  However, CBD alone is not clinically as effective as combining it in proper ratios with THC, and the right combination provides enhanced medicinal efficacy via what researchers term the “entourage effect.”

One very common use of medical marijuana in people is treatment of seizure disorders, of which we see a great deal in veterinary medicine, particularly in dogs.  Life threatening complications or organ damage are highly unlikely with properly dosed medical marijuana in comparison to traditional anti-convulsant medications which are know to tax the liver.  Other applications for medical marijuana include management of GI disease, nausea, spinal pain, arthritis pain, anxiety, and cancer management (stimulation of appetite and control of pain).

Are there any risks to treatment with medical marijuana in veterinary medicine?  The biggest risk medical marijuana carries is accidental overdose.  Even then, life threatening reactions to medical marijuana are exceedingly rare.  Also, we must recognized that accidental overdose potential exists with traditional medications as well, often with far more devastating consequences.

Will we be prescribing medical marijuana in veterinary medicine any time soon?  The answer to this is: not likely.  The first barrier is that standardized dosing research in dogs and cats is still very much in progress with little clear consensus.  The second barrier is that the purchase of medical marijuana in states like California (and likely Florida once it is available) require a medical marijuana card.  In California where medical marijuana has been legal for years, there is no legal mechanism by which a dog or cat can be issued a medical marijuana card.  I assume the same will be the case here in Florida where I practice once medical marijuana is available.

The best option available to pet owners at this time is to talk to a veterinarian who has experience with pets being treated with cannabis oil about proper dosage and reputable manufacturers.  How these veterinary practitioners navigate the legal side of prescribing medical marijuana is not clear to me, however.

In summary, practical applications of medical marijuana are well established in people and early research and anecdotal reports indicate that the same is true for dogs and cats.  While it will likely be some time before this alternative treatment approach will available to dogs and cats, as research evolves and doses are standardized, there will likely be more pressure for a legal avenue to make it available to dogs and cats.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Do Full Moons Cause More Seizures In Epileptic Dogs And Cats?

Most of us have been told tales of lunar lunacy where bad or crazy things tend to happen in great frequency when the moon is in its full moon part of its cycle and animals and people tend to act weird.  This belief has some parents taking care to tell their kids to exercise extra caution because of a full moon and spawned the birth of legends like the werewolf.  The question is, however, is there some truth to the full moon exerting some kind of physical or psychological influence on animals?

As a past emergency and critical care veterinarianin New York, I saw wild and crazy things just about every night regardless of the lunar cycle.  Although I did not take the time study or even casually pay attention whether there was an increase in accidents or epileptic seizures during the full moon phase, I cannot say that I ever observed a disproportionate incidence of emergencies during the full moon phase.

That stated, the conversation about an increase in seizures specifically in dogs and cats that lived with conditions like epilepsy that predisposed them to seizures was taken seriously enough that veterinary neurologists decided to study the possibility of this potential phenomenon.  Veterinary neurologists Laura Stainbach and Leveque subsequently conducted a retroactive study of 211 epileptic dogs and cats from 2000-2008.

The results of their study proved conclusively that there is no correlation between the full moon phase of the lunar cycle and increased seizure activity in these dogs and cats.  As much as many believe that the full moon produces physiological and psychological changes that trigger illness and odd behavior, at least in the case of seizures, any link to an increase in seizure activity during a full moon is little more than medical urban legend.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

The Grain Free Pet Food Fallacy

The grain free pet food craze has stuck in my craw as an integrative veterinary medical practitioner for years, but the final straw for me to post this article was a 5 year old female Labrador Retriever that presented for her well visit a few days ago.  The previous year at 72 pounds, I had listed her as overweight and recommended “portion control, and/or weight loss diet, increased exercise to facilitate weight loss.”  The owner had asked me for dietary recommendations at the time and I gave her a few options.

This year, my Lab patient not only failed to lose weight, but presented at a whopping 84 pounds, progressing her body condition from overweight to “morbidly obese.”  The owner was noticeably frustrated, so I asked her which diet she had chosen.  As it turns out, some time after last year’s visit, a friend of her’s convinced her that grains were the root of obesity and most other diseases that occur in dogs, and that her best way to get weight off her dog would be to put her on a grain free dog food.  When the owner saw the pretty wolf on the bag and its fantastic label claims, then even saw that the diet had its own TV commercial airing during prime time, she was sold…and succeeded only in transitioning her dog from a fat dog to an obese dog.

This grain free pet food craze that is pulling pet owners in hook, line and sinker, reminds me of the fat free craze in the early to mid 90’s.  The thought process was that if fat is eliminated from food items, we could eat the things we wanted and stay lean.  Like the grain free pet foods, the opposite actually occurred and people eating fat free foods only found themselves getting fatter and less healthy.

The problem was that in order to take the fat out of cookies, muffins, etc., sugar was added in its place to maintain its taste appeal and consistency.  Sugar, or glucose, is absorbed and utilized much more readily as an energy source than fat, resulting in the intake of a food additive that resulted in a great deal more calories per unit volume than fat.

Like the fat free human foods of the 90’s, grain free pet foods are also commonly loaded up with glucose to make up for the lack of grains.  But the grain free pet foods are even worse, because without the grains, the foods lack adequate amounts of soluble fiber.  Why is dietary soluble fiber important?  There are several reasons!

Soluble fiber unlike simple carbohydrate is not itself absorbed by the gut, but attracts water as it passes through the gastrointestinal tract.  This helps to control hunger by filling the bowel and contributes to regularity by bulking the stool, thereby facilitating bowel health and increasing the basal metabolic rate.  Soluble fiber also reduces the reliance on simple sugars in the diet, offering the pet more stable blood glucose metabolism, reducing obesity, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, pancreatic disease, and other diseases.

Truly, the only thing that is impressive about grain free pet food companies is their marketing departments.  With images of wolves and wildcats and proclaiming that your domestic pet should be fed more like its wild ancestors, the message is resonating with millions of pet owners.  Let us set aside from for one moment that our domestic dogs and cats are different from their wild ancestors physiologically and metabolically (that is a whole other topic for another day), I am quite certain that after killing their prey, a pack of wolves did not add a pound of sugar to their fresh kill.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Pheromone Treatment For Dogs And Cats? Really?

There’s always something new coming out that is the next great thing to make your pet’s life better. Myths get perpetuated on social media like gospel truth. What’s real and what’s just hype?

Pheromones sure sound sketchy. What are they? A pheromone is a chemical secreted by the body that is emitted and detected by other individuals of the same species. Pheromones are a means of “silent communication” so to speak. They can be used to communicate such messages as danger, food, territory, desire to breed, or calming. They do not have a smell that we can detect, but are detected through nasal passages or organs in the mouth.

Scientists have figured out which chemicals communicate what message in a variety of species. They also created synthetic versions of these chemicals for production. For instance, cats will often rub their face and cheeks against an object (or person!). Why are they doing this? They are applying a pheromone to that surface that “marks” that object or pant leg as “theirs.” Once many objects in a house are claimed, they can relax, knowing they are in their own domain. With dogs, a pheromone has been discovered that nursing mother dogs emit. It has a calming effect on the puppies. Puppies that know mom is there will eat better, sleep better, and eliminate better.

Companies have created these two pheromones (one for cats, one for dogs) for people to use at home to help reduce stress in their pets. So this is all well and good, but…really? I know, it sounds bogus. I was a huge skeptic when I first heard about them. It all sounds so abstract, and as a scientist, I need proof.

Well, there is proof! And it’s not the “my friend’s mom’s friend’s cousin says it works” kind of proof. Well designed, controlled, double blinded clinical studies have demonstrated an efficacy of >80% in 30 minutes for both the dog and cat versions. The original product was Feliway (for cats) and DAP, now called Adaptil, for dogs. They are still considered the “gold standard” by many veterinary behaviorists. Now other companies are coming out with their own versions.

These products come in a plug-in diffuser (think room air freshener) that you can use in your house. Large houses take a few diffusers to cover the space, as one diffuser covers 600-800 square feet. They also come in spray, which you can apply to a bed, carrier, or, for dogs, a bandana you can spray and the dog wears. The spray lasts 24 hours or less, so it’s not an easy long term solution, more for situational needs. They also come in collars the pets wears, and are replaced monthly (as are the diffusers).

I recommend pheromones often. They have no side effects, no odor, and can only help. If it doesn’t help, worst thing that happens is you’re out about $40 depending on the product. Some of my cat owners swear by them for helping inter-cat aggression, or most commonly, urinating outside of the litter box. My dog owners have been pleased when using it for dogs with generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, or situations like thunderstorms and fireworks. These are just a few examples of potential applications.

So while it sounds mystical, the science behind pheromones is sound, and many veterinary behaviorists have been recommending them for years! If you have a cat urinating outside the litterbox, or a dog that can’t cope with you leaving, these alone will not fix the problem. However, when coupled with a positively based approach, can help speed along improvement.

Here’s my article on other effective OTC anxiety treatments for dogs and cats.

Dr. Roger Holistic Vet guest blogger Dr. Karen Louis is a practicing small animal veterinarian.  See more of her articles at her blog at VetChick.com

Phytosphingosine Vital Component In Management Of Skin Disease In Dogs And Cats

Phytosphingosine is naturally occurring lipid compound on the outer layer of the skin of dogs and cats.  It is produced by the break down of wax-like compounds secreted by glands within the deep layers of skin.  This break down occurs via the skin’s natural flora, a population of good bacteria and yeast that are a normal component to normally functioning, healthy skin.  Phytosphingosine subsequently forms a transparent layer that protects the skin against drying, ultraviolet damage, harmful bacteria and yeast, and antigens that may trigger allergy.

Following a major inflammatory episode of the skin that may involve infection, allergic skin disease, parasitic infestation, autoimmune disease, or other diseases of the skin, despite resolution of disease, to varying degrees the skin’s ability to maintain the protective phytosphingosine layer becomes compromised for some time (as long as 3-6 months).   Subsequently,  although treatment for the resolution of skin disease may have proven successful, the canine or feline patient is often prone to relapses of disease for prolonged periods of time.

Thus, the inclusion of phytosphingosine as a natural prevalent ingredient to our canine and feline therapeutic shampoos has proved to be an invaluable, side effect free tool in the treatment of any number of skin diseases.

With few exceptions, phytosphingosine based shampoos are excellent adjunctive topical skin diseases, including (but not limited to):

  • Skin infections that do not involve puncture or deep ulceration of the skin
  • Allergic skin disease
    • Hair loss
    • Itching
    • Redness/irritation
  • Mange
  • Autoimmune disease

Even in the absence of disease of the skin, a phytosphingosine based maintenance, conditioning shampoo helps to maintain a full, shiny, healthy hair coat.

As the largest organ of the body, maintaining healthy skin is essential to maintaining optimal health and quality of life.  Phytosphingosine is a proven natural compound that aids in the maintenance of a healthy skin and hair coat.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Nature’s Anti-Inflammatory – Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Dogs And Cats

My expertise of course is veterinary medicine, but since we share much of the same mammalian physiology as dogs and cats, as a biochemist and veterinarian I have long ago jumped on the omega-3-fatty bandwagon for my whole family, human and furry alike.  Omega-3-fatty acids are found in high concentration in non-oxidized (more on this below) fish oils.  They can be found in some vegetables but they are known to be only 10% as bioavailable as that found in fish.  Bioavailability  refers to the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients.  In both human and veterinary medicine, the discovery of the health benefits of dietary omega-3-fatty acids has been hailed as a major advancement in nutritional science for preventative health care and management of disease.

Omega-3-fatty acids are an integral component to the cellular membrane which essentially is the protective barrier between the base unit of biological tissues that comprise the body’s organ systems and the outside environment.  That barriers allows for selective transport of molecules in and out of the cell, while protecting the interior of the cell from free radical injury and invasion of viruses and bacteria.  Thus, omega-3-fatty acids are invaluable in protecting and repairing cells.

Omega-3-fatty acids also block inflammatory biochemical processes that lead to inflammation.  This occurs by diverting inflammatory reactions from resulting in harmful inflammatory compounds and instead producing inert, non-harmful substrates.  The net effect is to reduce inflammation throughout the entire body.  As a result, I commonly say to my clients that omega-3-fatty acids are a good natural adjunctive treatment for any “itis.”

This combination of beneficial aspects for omega-3-fatty acids makes them invaluable treating for:

  • General wellness, tissue repair at the cellular level, and protection from oxidative injury and microorganism invasion
  • Brain health
  • Lower urinary tract disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Allergies
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Cardiovascular disease

As I stated, any “itis!”

It is important to note that nutritional supplements are not FDA regulated and omega-3-fatty acids are no exception, which is I why earlier in this post I alluded to non-oxidized omega-3-fatty acids.   This means that there is no regulatory agency that is assuring product quality, bioavailability, or and label integrity.

In my next post via the link below, I will discuss the differences in beneficial and bogus omega-3-fatty acids supplements and how choosing bogus product may not only be ineffective, but even harmful to your pet.

The Importance Of Selecting A High Quality Omega-3-Fatty Supplement For Dogs & Cats

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.